Peter Moore has come back full circle into video games as a new board member at Nifty Games, which is making sports video games for mobile devices.
Though he veered off into running a soccer club in Liverpool for three years, Moore has a legendary place in the history of video games. He was president of Sega of America when that company launched the ill-fated Dreamcast console, and he was corporate vice president at Microsoft as the company launched its Xbox 360 game console. He ran Electronic Arts’ EA Sports game division from 2007 to 2011 and served as the chief operating officer at EA from 2012 to 2017.
In 2017, he left to become CEO of Liverpool Football Club. During his tenure, Liverpool won the UEFA Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, and the Premier League. He was named the Premier League CEO of the year in 2019. That stint in his career was a sentimental time for Moore, as he grew up in Liverpool and was a former high-level soccer player and soccer coach.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Moore said in an interview with GamesBeat. “I will be very different, but I’ve been involved in sports games since the late 1990s. I’ve watched the industry evolve, and I think it will be a blast.”
He said he enjoyed the “phenomenal three years” at the soccer club as it won so many trophies. But his contract came to a close and he is moving back to California with his wife. Jon Middleton, CEO of Nifty Games, approached him about serving on the board of Nifty Games. They had met years earlier during Moore’s earlier stints in games when Middleton was working at Massive, an early in-game ad company. Moore also knew Nifty cofounder Pete Wanat from his work on sports games in the past.
One of Nifty’s first games will be NFL Clash, which is modeled after fast-action, “Supercell style,” mobile strategy games like Clash Royale.
Game veterans Middleton and Wanat started the San Francisco company to make head-to-head sports games. Nifty Games previously announced a partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) to bring an NBA basketball game to mobile devices in the near future.
The founders said they feel a gap exists in the market for sports fans who want an experience that can last four or five minutes, rather than hours. In this kind of game, players can play against each other in real time. And it could be important as a way for sports fans to scratch an itch when they can’t even watch sports on TV. The big rival, of course, is Electronic Arts’ NFL Madden games, which are available across all platforms including mobile, where Nifty Games is focused. To date, mobile sports games have been casual mini-games or simulations migrated from gaming consoles.
“I was fascinated by the sports focus and the utilization of the Clash game mechanic,” Moore said. “It’s making sports games a little bit more approachable. I’m as guilty as anybody over the years for making them harder and harder to play. When I started to play the build, I got completely hooked with it, even in an early form. I knew this was something that I wanted to get involved with.”
Moore was also impressed with the blue-chip venture investors like March Capital Partners and Nifty’s ties to the sports world, where it can secure all-important licenses.
“It was very clear to me that they were truly onto something here and, and fulfilling a need that I think mobile gaming was yet to be able to really do,” he said. “I think we’re all familiar with how popular the Clash mechanic has been. And then you see games like Golf Clash. They have phenomenal engagement and huge numbers. When you added it all together, I’m totally hooked. I feel like I can add some value as a board member.”
As for getting more involved in the game industry, Moore said it was early days on that kind of decision.
“I’m in Liverpool and still pulling up stakes here,” he said.
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